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A2: RELIGIOUS LANGUAGE
Introduction
Religious language

Definition; `Concerned with what can be said about God not whether or not God exists or
what God is like. Religious language talks about religious and spiritual concepts such as the
nature of God and the afterlife and things outside of our senses.'

Problems…

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He said that every problem of interpretation is a problem of understanding and even
defined hermeneutics as the art of avoiding misunderstanding
Schleiermacher sought to create a universal theory; `it is to be applied to the works of every
author'
During his time people moved away from merely understanding objective…

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Verification Principle
Analytic propositions (a priori) ­ knowledge gained through logical reasoning; true by
definition e.g. `all bachelors are unmarried men'
Synthetic propositions (a posteriori) ­ knowledge verifiable by empirical evidence; true or
false by experience e.g. `elephants are pink'
Therefore the logical positivists argued that it is pointless to…

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Criticisms of Weak Verification

John Hick argued that when we die, the truth of God's existence will be verified
Eschatological verification (he uses the Parable of the Eschatological city - two people
walking down a road arguing whether it leads to the celestial city; they will see when they
get…

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statements but they can still be meaningful; although one cannot falsify that the toys do not
leave the cupboard when unsupervised, the concept of movement still has enough eaning
because we can understand it
Language Games (Philosophical Investigations)

Developed in Ludwig Wittgenstein's second and posthumous book `Philosophical
Investigations' where he…

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Many mystics such as St. John of the Cross, believe it is possible to talk about God by not
saying what he is but by saying what he is not; the via negative
As a mystical experience is ineffable, the mystics resort to saying what God is not e.g. saying…

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This is another way some philosophers believe that it is possible to talk about God as it
avoids the problems of equivocal language
St. Thomas Aquinas believed that religious language is meaningful but rejected the via
negative because it does not reveal enough about God, instead he turned to analogies…

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However some thinkers such as Duns Scotus argue that analogy is too vague and leaves us
unable to understand God and his actions
Hick comments that analogy enables us to make some statements about God yet still
preserve the degree of mystery present in Judaeo-Christian theology
Debateable whether it gets…

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Peter Vardy observed how some ideas and values are shown through myth all over the
world including creation stories, stories of virgin births and of great floods
For modern day Christians, myths are a way of responding to questions of God, creation and
religious questions. They are not concerned with…

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